The material here was recorded for the Verve and MPS labels, and this two-disc, import retrospective of the work of legendary pianist Oscar Peterson is not only representative, but solid from top to bottom, showcasing many of his finest moments on wax in both live and studio recordings with his great trio of Herb Ellis and Ray Brown as well as in other settings. This is as fine an introduction as there is and, for the money, simply cannot be beaten.
The Nelson Riddle Orchestra was always great enough to play music for film and television soundtracks, and accompany the greatest of stars, including Louis Jordan, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, among many others. For the band to back up the 1963 version of the Oscar Peterson trio with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen might have created some tension, with Peterson always wanting to cut loose and go over the top as opposed to the silky smooth sound Riddle favored. Fortunately, Peterson strikes a balance between playing it cool and lettin' 'er rip on this collection of standards with the dinner hour in mind…
The Songbooks inherited from the musical tradition of Broadway are at the epicentre of Oscar Peterson´s musical culture; this was also the case for the one he regarded as a master : Art Tatum. It was to the extent that Oscar Peterson recorded them twice. The first time was at the beginning of 1950s principly as a Trio with guitar and double bass, then a second time with double bass and drums a few years later. It is this first wonderful remastered series that is presented to you here. Technical mastery, irresistible swing, constant inventivness and a remarkable complicity with Ray Brown, Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis characterise this sum of inexhaustible richness.
Despite the pessimistic title, all of the members of this particular quartet (vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist Oscar Peterson, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Grady Tate) were still active into the mid-'90s. The music is unsurprising but still quite enjoyable and virtuosic as Bags and Co. perform blues, standards and ballads with their usual swing and bop-based creativity. Highlights include the title cut, "Stuffy," "What Am I Here For" and a vibes-piano duo version of "A Time for Love."